CES's Biggest Buzzkill Is an A.I. That Cracks Down on Netflix Sharing

The 21st century version of goin' steady may be on the decline.

Password sharing for online streaming services is a hallmark of the Millennial love language. But whether you call it “shared economy” or “a very bad, no-good thing to do,” the 21st century version of goin’ steady may be on the decline. Why? Because the largest independent software firm in the world just made it their business to crack down on Netflix sharing.

Last month, ahead of CES 2019, UK-based firm Synamedia unveiled a platform that utilizes machine learning, A.I. and behavioral analytics to hunt down the elusive Password Sharer, which a 2018 survey found 27 percent of Millennials to be. Subscription services like Netflix and Hulu pay to access Synamedia’s platform, dubbed Credentials Sharing Insight, which is then integrated into a service’s subscription database. Featuring a real-time dashboard, Synamedia’s platform identifies, analyzes and monitors credential use, and highlights any unusual or suspicious activity from individual accounts.

“It’s a great way to keep honest people honest while benefiting from an incremental revenue stream,” said Jean Marc Racine, CPO and GM EMEA of Synamedia, in a recent statement.

netflix
If you share Netflix passwords, a new A.I. is coming for you. 

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Despite the prevalence of password sharing, the practice has gone largely unchecked. Companies historically regarded password sharing as a way of attracting new users. But industry projections estimate that account sharing will result in $9.9 billion in lost revenue by 2021. Machine learning, meanwhile, is particularly suited to analyzing data from a specific account - what time it’s being accessed, and from where, along with the type of content being streamed - and identifying patterns that may indicate a password has been passed around. Subscribers are assigned a probability score, which is then shared with service providers.

To be clear, Credentials Sharing Insight, which just happens to share an acronym with “Crime Scene Investigation,” doesn’t dole out actual punishments. That’s left up to the streaming service, which can choose to “up-sell” the owners of an account, for example, if it’s clear their password is being used by a whole gaggle of college students.

Synamedia remains tight-lipped about which streaming services are currently using a trial of their Credentials Sharing Insight platform, though industry giants AT&T, Disney, Comcast and Verizon are all Synamedia clients for other services. So enjoy your college roommate’s ex-boyfriend’s mom’s Hulu while you can; the end may be nigh.